Letters to Mom 027: Gloves

Standard

Mom, I really need to talk to you. Of all of the things I haven’t written to you about, I’m ashamed that I need your insight over gloves.

The thing that pushes me to write and reach out to you isn’t passing my first semester of nursing school. It’s not to let you know that I was diagnosed with cancer, or that I had surgery, or that I’m recovering well enough though I still give myself shit for “not being better”.

No. It’s nothing all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a pivotal point in my life; maybe my career. It might make my life hell for the next forever and though I feel I did the right thing, though I’ve talked to several people who agree I did the right thing, it’s you who I want to say those words.

Fuck my life, mom. Fuck my sense of justice and integrity. I couldn’t just let this go and now I might have ruined everything.

Today as we were leaving work, the RN I was working with took a handful of gloves.

RN: I need to stop for gas on the way home. Have to stay safe out there.

I watched her take the gloves. I didn’t try to stop her. I didn’t say anything about, “You shouldn’t take those.” I did nothing except let it happen.

I was so bothered by it though. We’re in a pandemic and you’re going to take supplies meant to provide care for our patients and use them to pump gas? That’s not right. None of that is right.

I was so conflicted, mom. I still am. I called Ox and I told him what had happened and that I didn’t know what to do. This is the RN who had an issue with me coloring during my downtime at work. Was I bothered simply because I wanted to retaliate?

No… I was bothered because we as employees of our company signed a contract saying we wouldn’t take work supplies for personal use. That’s theft. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It could have been anything. A handful of paper towels. Masks. Hand sanitizer. It could have been anything that the company ordered for the clinic.

Our supplies are meant for the clinic, not for you. If you want to use gloves while you pump gas then go buy a box of gloves from the store like every other person who doesn’t work in the health care field has to do. That’s why I go out and buy my own page protectors from Office Depot rather than taking a pack from the stash at work.

Could I? Yes. Do I? No, because I said I wouldn’t.

Ox encouraged me to reach out to my FA. Maybe the RN had spoken to her about taking a few gloves. Maybe there was more to the situation I didn’t know about. That was a valid point. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

So I called. I asked if anyone on our team as asked to use work supplies for personal matters.

FA: What do you mean?

Fuuuuuuuck…

So I explained the situation.

FA: No. No one talked to me about that. This is an issue. We can’t have this happening.

There is going to be a message sent to all of us at the clinic in regards to supplies. The RN is going to know it’s me. My FA said she was going to talk to the RN directly as well. I guess that’s already happened since the RN tried to call me. I didn’t answer… most likely not helping my situation… That’s a problem for future me.

I can already hear Future Me bitching…

Present Me: You’re welcome. : D

I work with her Monday, mom. I’m dreading it and it’s only 7 pm. I’ve been off work for three hours and I’m already so ready to not go to work I’ve thought about quitting so I don’t have to be alone with this person.

I talked to dad, asking for his perspective as a manager. I’ve talked to Allison about it, too, since she was a high-level manager for a while.

They both feel I did the right thing for the right reasons. My FA is paid way more than me to take in information like this and to choose the best course of action. I am not responsible for what my FA does with the information. I am not responsible for how my coworker reacts to my FA’s choices.

But I work with her, mom. I might have just fucked everything up. Over gloves…

But it’s not the gloves that are the issue. The core of this whole thing is that taking something that isn’t yours is wrong. She wouldn’t have taken the gloves if she had been working with my FA instead of me, so why was it ok today? If I would have gotten in trouble for it, why would she think she’s above the same expectations? Is it because I’m just a PCT? Because I never say anything? Because I wouldn’t “snitch”?

Is this snitching? We’re in a pandemic and supplies are back-ordered and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and you’re taking the supplies we need for our patients. You’re stealing from our patients. We NEED those supplies to ensure we maintain proper infection control during their procedures. What happens if gloves become an issue?

Should the pandemic thing even matter? At the root of it all, you said you wouldn’t take supplies and you did. You lied. You stole.

As employees of the company, we are mandated reporters for stuff like this. If it had been found out that this happened, and I knew about it, and I didn’t do anything or report it, I’m not exempt from consequences. If someone saw me doing something wrong, they are expected, mandated, to report it.

“It’s just gloves.”

That’s what keeps going on inside my head right now, mom. It’s just gloves. I get it. It can seem dumb when you focus on the object rather than the action. It was theft. Blatant. Intentional. As if I didn’t matter; didn’t exist. As if my words wouldn’t invoke reactions and consequences. As if my own moral character didn’t matter.

My life is going to suck at work for the next forever, mom. She’s going to out for blood. Everything I do is going to be wrong. Every break I take. Every time I step off the floor. Everything I do is going to have a flaw in her eyes.

It was the right choice for my peace of mind. It was the wrong choice if I wanted an easy life.

I guess that’s something… There are all sorts of quotes about the “right thing” being hard.

Right now I don’t feel like I have the inner resolve I need to be ok with my choice. I know it was the right one to make; more for myself than anything. Stealing is wrong. I couldn’t not say something regardless of what the item was and be ok with myself.

But actions of reactions. The reaction to my action of informing is that I have made my coworker’s life harder and she, in turn, is going to be resentful and potentially take it out on me by fostering a negative work environment while we’re together.

That is the consequence of the choice I made.

So I guess that’s where my issue comes in; where my resolve falters. This is where the confusion is and so maybe I don’t have the words I want or need to express it right.

Why am I worried about how she’s going to act? She can act however she wants. Am I going to let her attitude change wanting to be at MY clinic? Am I going to let her mess with my own attitude? Am I going to give her power over my emotions? Does she deserve that power?

No. No one does. My emotions are my own. I may not control them, but I exist with them, alongside them, and if I take the time to understand them, sometimes I can persuade them to change and to see another perspective.

I remained true to myself and to my own standards which happen to be in line with the company’s core values and our code of conduct.

I DID do the right thing.

Sometimes the right thing and the hard thing are the same thing.

I don’t know, mom. I don’t think I really figured anything out, but I don’t feel as anxious anymore. I’m not as worried about Monday. I’m not as worried about her life or how I may or may not have messed it up.

Stealing is wrong. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t a whole box of gloves. Either you’re allowed to take them or you’re not. There isn’t a gray area. There aren’t situational exceptions here. That’s one of the positive things about policies and procedures. They remove the gray, nebulous, opinion-based judgement calls. They make things black and white, for better or for worse. They give us something to use as a standard for ethical and professional behavior.

I know I did the right thing, mom. Now to fight the good fight; the one in my head. I’m not going to back down from my choice to inform. If I did the morally right thing then I have nothing to be ashamed of or regret.

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